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Big buck tactics that work

By DICK MARTIN • Nov 11, 2017 at 8:00 AM

The November rut is full on now, and plenty of readers are spending their spare time in a tree stand hoping to arrow an old mosshorn.

Some will, of course, but most will settle for a forky, a six, or maybe an eight point. How do you take a true wall hanger? There are several ways. The first is to find a big animal. Whitetail bucks like to make their scrapes along a forest trail, fencerow, or whatever, and almost invariably they'll make several scrapes well separated along that trail. So, you check as many series of scrapes as possible, and hunt for the one that has the biggest hoof marks in the soft soil. That's probably the one you're looking for.

Next, unless the land is dead flat, it pays to build several stands. Remember that winds here usually come from the west, but they might blow from the south or even the east on a given day, and in hilly country you could be sitting where the wind might waft your scent to an approaching buck. With several stands to choose from, that won't happen. If you're hunting with a crossbow, a tree stand isn't really necessary, but even here you might want to construct several ground blinds to take advantage of proper winds.

If you're using a tree stand, there are still several ways to go, and one is to stay up there all day. A friend likes to climb into his stand at first light with a pee bottle, some coffee and a couple of sandwiches. He'll stay there until it's getting dark. Personally, I could never do it and most hunters couldn't either, but he said “You'd be surprised at how often a buck will come along at 11 a.m. or noon to check his scrapes and come back around 3 p.m. or so. If they do that, I’m up there waiting.”

Another choice for tree standers or ground hunters for that matter, is to get a little aggressive if nothing is happening. Like working a buck grunt every half hour or so. Real dominant bucks, in short the big boys, don't like having another deer hanging around their scrapes, and will sometimes come in at a run to kick out a usurper.

And if you get really tired of sitting up there or in your ground blind, try rattling. This is the business of clashing together a pair of antlers or artificial rattlers purchased at a sporting goods store to imitate a couple of bucks fighting over a doe. You'll rattle for a minute or so, stop for a bit, then rattle again. The technique can work anytime, but produces best during the latter part of the rut when many of the does have been bred and there's fierce competition for the ones that remain.

A couple of years ago two friends spent some hours rattling, moving from place to place, but concentrating on brushy areas where a big buck might lay up for the day. "I was using the bow at this one spot" the man said, "while my partner rattled away. Suddenly one came crashing our way through a corn field just throwing stalks in all directions. Then another came racing down through the brush so fast I was almost scared. I got the cornfield buck, a nice 10 pointer."

Finally, if you're tired of sitting for long hours, you might try driving. It takes at least five or six hunters for this, and the idea is to line up several archers and have them drive toward a couple of standers well in front. The drivers should have the wind on the back of their necks or quartering, and they should move slow and quiet so deer will ghost out ahead rather than race away. Driving produces does and small bucks, but it will also turn up the occasional big guy, and that's what you're looking for.

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Hooks & bullets:

• Bird conservation groups are challenging an industry-supported environmental assessment of Lake Eire's first offshore wind project, siting numerous inadequacies in both science and process. Ohio's Black Swamp Bird Observatory and American Bird Conservancy said they reject the assessment's claim that the planned Icebreaker wind energy facility would have "little to no impact" on birds and bats, citing the critical importance of Lake Erie to migratory birds such as the endangered Kirtland's Warbler.

• COSI, Columbus' world-class science center, and the American Museum of Natural History are opening a 13,000 sq. ft. gallery on Nov. 18 dedicated to dinosaurs and natural history in a first-of-its-kind partnership The space will feature a permanent American Museum of Natural History Dinosaur Gallery, the life-sized cast of a massive tyrannosaurus-rex that's planned to captivate the imagination of people of all ages, as well as more specimens from the Museum's dinosaur collection.

• The Ohio Bird Sanctuary (OBS) was recently dedicated as an official WILD School Site by the ODNR. The Sanctuary is the 175th site dedicated in Ohio and the second in Richland County. OBS partnered with the Division of Wildlife as well as the Wilderness Center Chapter to design and install a chimney swift tower on OBS property. The Sanctuary has created or nurtured over 90 acres of meadow, riparian and old growth forest habitat for countless birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and insects. It's well worth a visit.


Dick Martin is a free-lance writer from Shelby. Reach him at [email protected] You can also visit his blog at outdoorswithmartin.com.

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